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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 25, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga



REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Ginowan mayoral election for which voting took place yesterday. Incumbent Mayor Atsushi Sakima, backed by the ruling parties, secured a victory. What is the comment of the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the Government would like to refrain from making comments as this is a mayoral election of a local municipality. That said, we are pleased that the candidate recommended by the Liberal Democratic Party and the Komeito Party was elected. In any case, the election was a local municipal election, and the decision was made by the people of the city.

REPORTER: I have a related question. One of the points at issue in this election was the issue of the relocation of Futenma Air Station that the Government is undertaking. The opposing candidate, Mr. Keiichiro Shimura, campaigned on a so-called “All Okinawa” platform that opposes the relocation to Henoko, based on the popular will of Okinawa. In this regard, what is your view concerning the significance of the election result and the popular will of Okinawa?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Previously, I stated that what the term “All Okinawa” implies is far removed from the actual situation. Nine mayors out of the eleven cities in Okinawa have not joined in with the Governor, or how shall I say, have not joined the “All Okinawa” camp. So this was very clear. In addition, I perceive that in the election, while faced with many different issues, including the issues of the economy, childrearing, welfare, city development, and the bases, the people of Ginowan chose incumbent Mayor Sakima. In any event, what is critically important for the Government is to close Futenma Air Station, which is located in the city center surrounded by residential areas and schools, and is said to be the most dangerous base in the world, and thereby eliminate the dangers it poses. We will make government-wide efforts to alleviate the burden of the bases in Okinawa.


REPORTER: The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced that 771 new locations in the Sea of Japan side and elsewhere have been confirmed as places where there may be reserves of methane hydrate. This brings the total number of places in the seabed of Japan’s surrounding waters to over 1,700. While the deposit amount in certain locations on the Pacific Ocean side is believed to be known to some extent, the deposit amount in the Sea of Japan side is unknown. To what extent is the Government aware of the deposit amount at this point in time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, studies were conducted in a focused manner for three years since 2013. This time, we obtained data for confirming the amount of resources near Oki and off the coast of Joetsu. Based on this data, experts will carry out analyses and assessments to find out whether there are adequate amounts of resources. Therefore, at this stage, I would like to refrain from responding about the situation relating to the resources. In any case, I will disclose this information when the assessments and analyses have been finalized.


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